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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5682

Mr PERRETT (6:50 PM) —Today is 16 June, not a particularly special day in a lot of ways, though it is my brother Simon’s birthday, but the literally-minded might know that it is Bloomsday. Those who struggled through Ulysses would know. Anyone from Queensland or New South Wales would know it is State of Origin night—even Victorians would know that. The Attorney-General and I are keen followers of rugby league. Whilst we have our differences on State of Origin night, we both know that we want a good game. I have always been a strong follower of State of Origin and used to love this night until my wife spoiled it for me many years ago. She has worked in child protection for 20 years and she gave me some horrible data. On State of Origin night, the state that loses experiences a significant spike in incidents of domestic violence. It has spoilt the game for me in a lot of ways because I want every State of Origin game to be a draw. Obviously that does not happen. On nights like this, I do think of what is going to happen after the game, after the final whistle has blown.

The women’s legal service in Annerley in my electorate provides free legal advice and information to women in Queensland, particularly those living on the south side of Brisbane. Unfortunately they might encounter some of the people who suffer after the final whistle in tonight’s game. The legal support they offer is often provided at the most vulnerable times for women, when they are facing domestic violence or at risk of homelessness. The women’s legal service is run by women for women. They offer an advice hotline, legal information sessions and individual legal advice and referrals. They rely on the generosity of lawyers, who offer their time to provide legal support. Thankfully, even though lawyers receive a hard time, there are plenty of generous lawyers throughout Queensland and throughout Australia. I started my legal career in 1997 and my first boss Michael Quinn taught me that it is important that every lawyer do pro bono legal work for the community. It is good for the community and good for the soul, but it is especially good for the community.

The Commonwealth government has also provided further funding to the women’s legal service to support this vital community service. The people who work in the legal service in Annerley help to save lives. They help to change lives also. Could the Attorney update the House on what the government is doing to improve access to justice, including funding for legal assistance services?